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#Tax & Legal #HR Legal #Corona #Temporary Unemployment #Force Majeure

Can temporary unemployment on grounds of force majeure be invoked for medical reasons?

Saturday 25/04/2020

In certain cases, force majeure may be invoked on medical grounds. Attention ! The employee must not be ill.

 If the employee is ill, the employer must pay guaranteed wages or the mutual insurance company will intervene. 

 A government quarantine measure against an individual employee? If the government decides to place an individual in quarantine because he is (presumably) infected, the employee may be temporarily put out of work for reasons of force majeure.  

  • An employee is sent home by the company doctor because he is (presumably) infected? If the company doctor is of the opinion that an employee should be removed from the workplace, the employee can be temporarily put out of work due to force majeure.  
  • An employee has a certificate from his general practitioner proving that he is not allowed to work? When the attestation clearly shows that the employee is not allowed to work, for example because there are serious indications of an infection (a family member under the same roof who is effectively infected, for example) and there is a risk of infection of other employees. In that case, the employee may be temporarily put out of work due to force majeure.  
  • An employer wants to send employees home preventively?  If an employer wants to send employees home 'preventively' on its own initiative, without an order from the government, or without a decision from the company doctor, or without a certificate from the general practitioner of the employee(s) in question, then force majeure cannot be invoked.  If, on the other hand, the company doctor decides, for example, that all immediate colleagues, the employees of a department, ... have to go home, then temporary unemployment can be invoked for these employees on account of force majeure.    
  • The employer is infected himself?  In such a case, it is the employer himself who is prevented from providing work for his employees because he himself is ill (for example: a baker is infected and can no longer bake bread, which means that the seller has no work). In such a case, the workers can apply for temporary unemployment due to force majeure. 
  • A client of the employer invokes medical reasons? In the scenario that a customer, for fear of infection by the Coronavirus, temporarily does not wish to call on the services of the employer and employee, the employee may be temporarily unemployed for economic reasons, provided that no replacement work can be offered (possibly with another customer) and he has taken up his overtime. The mere loss of an assignment with a client because the client is afraid of becoming infected is not in itself a case of force majeure for which temporary unemployment can be requested for reasons of force majeure. In the event that the employee is unable to work for a client because the client is sick or has been placed in quarantine, it is not possible to work for that client and temporary force majeure unemployment could be claimed for the loss of that specific assignment.  Please note that temporary unemployment can only be requested for a full day, and not, for example, when a client drops out in the morning, but there are still activities with another client in the afternoon. 

If you have other questions regarding the Corona crisis, please visit our special FAQ

Last update: 30/04/2020

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Saskia Lombaerts
Saskia Lombaerts
Director Tax & Legal